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WHMI 93.5 FM Radio Station for Livingston County Michigan with News, Traffic, and Weather Service for Howell and Brighton

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    The story of one woman’s courage in escaping communist Czechoslovakia with her two children will be told at a local library’s upcoming event. Author John Kozak will be at the Brighton District Library this coming Monday to discuss his book, “Through the Eyes of Rose: A Mother’s Flight to Freedom in a Memory Mosaic”. In October of 1949, Rose Kozak took her children, then 7-year-old John and his older sister, seeking safe harbor in West Germany. Rose had learned that Czech Communists had fabricated criminal charges against her husband, due to his failure to join the Communist party. Her husband, Anthony, was unable to return from Switzerland to Prague as he faced imprisonment due to the charges. After being betrayed by a money-hungry guide, Rose and her two children fled into the Bohemian Forest where they were hunted by tracking dogs and nearly captured by a Soviet patrol. John tells WHMI just when they were almost caught, gunfire broke out between Czechs that were also trying to escape and the Soviet patrol, diverting the dogs and patrolmen away from him, his sister and his mother. Rose told her children to run. The three escapees eventually made it through the forest to West Germany, coming across a German patrolman who pointed Rose toward a nearby village in the American sector, where they stayed in an OSS camp. From there they ended up in a refugee camp, eventually reuniting with John’s father in Switzerland. John says his family remained in Switzerland for about two and a half years before immigrating to the United States in January of 1952, where they reunited with Rose’s parents. Speaking to his mother’s bravery John says, “One woman’s courage and dogged determination to seek freedom for her family proves that a mother’s love prevails over evil.” For those interested in hearing John’s full story, Monday’s event will be held from 7 to 8pm. Guests are asked to register by calling 810-229-6571 ext. 227. (DK) Photo 1: Facebook photo.

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    Crews from multiple fire departments battled a kitchen fire in the City of Linden this afternoon. The fire was reported around 1:30pm at a home on Webber Court in the Shiawassee Shores Retirement Community, which consists of manufactured homes with garages and crawl spaces. The fire was contained to the home and the scene was cleared around 3:40pm. There were no injuries involved. Linden Fire Chief Brian Will says two elderly residents were home at the time and managed to get out safely. He says a grease fire from cooking started in the kitchen. The kitchen was said to be destroyed, along with the attic area above. Smoke damage resulted throughout the rest of the home and the couple has been displaced but is being assisted. Will tells WHMI there was a lot of damage and kitchen fires spread quickly - noting cooking fires can get out of hand when people try to put them out so fortunately no one was hurt and the residents were able to get out safely. Linden firefighters were assisted on scene by the Argentine Township, Mundy Township, Fenton City and Fenton Township Fire Departments. (JM)

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    As the partial government shutdown enters its fourth week, federal employees are going without a paycheck that was due today. Among them is Dan Sheill of Pinckney, who is a Special Agent with a federal agency, which he preferred not to mention. Sheill, who is an essential employee and must work despite not being paid, says the politics of the shutdown are immaterial to the fact that 800,000 employees across the country are being forced to make decisions that could have long-range impacts. "I've dedicated 27 years of my life to protecting this nation and its people, and I'm honored to do that. But this does make it more difficult to approach the challenges when, frankly, we're not duly compensated. I'm committed and all the other employees are committed but it does make it more challenging." Sheill says at this point they are able to make the appropriate adjustments to get by, but if another paycheck is missed that is going to put a definite strain on his family’s finances. He’s hoping the impasse can be resolved before then. "Anyone in this situation is having to look at alternative sources of income such as tapping into savings, liquidating some investments or credit card spending, which no one wants to do if they don't have to. The longer this goes on, people that work for the government are generally middle-class incomes, the more strain this put on them and their finances." The House voted today that all federal employees will be paid retroactively after the partial government shutdown ends. The Senate approved the bill unanimously Thursday. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. As of Saturday the shutdown will be the longest in U.S. history. (JK)

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    A local financial advisor is sharing thoughts on how to make the most of your investments in 2019. Bob Laura is President of the SYNERGOS Financial Group in Brighton. Recently, a pair of articles he has written regarding what to do with your 401(k) and things that you should ask your financial advisor have been gaining traction on Forbes.com. Laura says investors can look at their 401(k) plans in two different parts: the existing balance of money that has already been allocated, and current contributions that made each pay period. One of the easiest things to do, Laura says, is using a small portion of your regular paycheck contributions to buy underperformers. He advises to increase contributions when you can, buy the stuff that’s on sale, be consistent, and use the many tools and resources out there to continue to educate yourself. With the market down 15% since its September high and a government shutdown in effect, Laura says it’s a good time to assess what you have and also make sure you have high quality stuff that is actually working for you. Laura also has 3 questions that everyone should be asking their financial advisor. The first is to ask them what the plan is for this coming year, and what strategies and ideas they have to help make your investments grow. Also, ask your advisor how much you are paying them, and don’t let them skirt around the issue. Laura says that in reality, they are all professionals and should not have an issue with articulating costs. Finally ask them what you are getting for your money from them. This is an important question Laura says that many investors fail ask, especially when the market is up. As for 2019? Laura is forecasting a positive return with the economy still being strong. He says 2020 “could be a different picture, but we’ll see.” See the articles at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2019/01/01/three-things-to-ask-your-financial-advisor-right-now/#36c85a82a004 https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaura/2018/12/30/do-this-with-your-401k-right-now/#52d48727d148 (MK)

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    A first-of-its-kind late night event is planned for adults at the Fowlerville District Library. The community is invited to attend the very first overnight event geared toward adults at the Fowlerville District Library off South Grand Avenue. It will take place Saturday, January 26th from 8pm to 8am Sunday, January 27th. Officials say a number of activities are planned including a steampunk mystery game, history show-and-tell, crafts, movies, games and more. Attendees are not obligated to stay the entire night. Organizers say people can stay as long as they want, have fun meeting new people and make fun crafts to take home. A late supper, snacks and beverages will be provided throughout the night. Space is limited and those wishing to take part must register in person. Registration begins January 12th and includes a refundable $5 cash deposit. (JM)

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    Several roads in Fenton Township will be receiving some much needed updates. The Fenton Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved four projects to be completed with Community Development Block Grant funds between 2019 and 2021. The intersections at Old Linden and Thompson roads will be paved, and cracks will be sealed on Jennings Road. In addition, ditching and culvert replacement was approved for Odell Road, Fairbanks Road, the north side of Jennings Road and the south side of Ray Road. Scholarships for Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation have also been approved. The total cost of the four projects is $82,164 which is the exact amount the township received in funds from the CDBG. Now, the projects will be viewed by Genesee County Community Development staff, which needs to give final approval. (AV)

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    A local lawmaker posted another perfect voting record last year. Republican State Representative Hank Vaupel of Handy Township finished his second term in the state House of Representatives with a perfect voting record. He took part in all 1,554 roll call votes during the 2017-2018 session. Vaupel said the people of Livingston County elected him to be their voice in Lansing and he takes that responsibility very seriously. Vapuel says he believes it’s important to be present and participate in every vote and over the next two years, he will continue working hard to represent the interests of the 47th District. Vaupel is currently serving his third and final term in the Michigan House of Representatives. (JM)

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    A local credit union is looking to help area students attend college. The Lake Trust Credit Union Foundation in Brighton is offering nine different scholarships to students looking to go into skilled trades or become entrepreneurs. Starting Monday, January 7th, applications will be accepted on the foundation’s website. Four “New Beginning” scholarships worth $2,500 each will be awarded to students that wish to become skilled trade workers. Five full-tuition “Community Impact” scholarships will be awarded to prospective students that are hoping to become entrepreneurs. The five scholarships will cover the full cost of either undergraduate or graduate studies at Cleary University. To apply, visit the link below. (AV)

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    Sober-living homes were the subject of an intense Milford Village Council meeting recently. Nearly a year after Milford residents raised concerns regarding the number of sober-living homes in town, another meeting was dominated by the same topic, the Milford Times reports. A series of prohibitive ordinances were recommended by the council which would limit the number of unrelated residents per rental property using a resident per square footage formula, require the installation of fire-prevention sprinkler devices based on the number of residents and add a minimum number of off-street parking spaces. These changes, which would apply to all rental properties in the area, would significantly impact the village’s four sober-living homes, three of which are owned by Rhett and Elizabeth Reader, who say the new ordinances are an example of intentional structural discrimination by the council. Residents spoke on both sides of the issue, with detractors saying that people in recovery shouldn’t be victimized and aren’t the ones bringing drugs into the community. Supporters of the ordinances were concerned about property values, changing the characteristics of single family neighborhoods and what the limit on sober-living homes in a town as small as Milford should be. The council members’ feedback on proposed ordinance changes will be sent back to the planning commission, which will review the information before taking action. (AV)

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    Genoa Township is hoping to secure some grant funds that would aid in completing a pathway project sooner than originally planned. The Genoa Township Board met recently and approved a proposal for survey and design engineering services for the final phase of the Grand River Sidewalk Project. The project has been done in phases, usually on an every other year basis. However, there is now the possibility of grant funding through the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments or SEMCOG. Since the township has shown a commitment to non-motorized paths and the next phase represents a connection point between communities, there is a good possibility the township would be successful if it applies. Supervisor Bill Rogers tells WHMI the board authorized moving up the time frame to complete the engineering, which would have had to be done anyway, thanks to Trustee Terry Croft. Rogers says Croft is the board liaison to SEMCOG and discovered a window in which the agency was looking to help invest in different things. He presented some of the projects the township is looking at and inquired if any would comply with rules and regulations for grant funds. Rogers says Croft has done a lot of hard work since being on the board and it appears as though the township has a shot at the grant. Rogers noted the project was going to be done regardless, but they’re going to get the engineering done now to try and move the project along quicker if possible. Meanwhile, a portion of a prior phase of the sidewalk project will be completed this spring. The installation of a boardwalk and traffic signal in the area of Hughes Road and Grand River has to be postponed due to challenges with logistics for the boardwalk as well as other issues related to Michigan weather. Some preliminary work will be done during the winter and the rest of the bridge installation will take place when things start to warm up. That work will coincide with the installation of a traffic signal at Hughes Road by the Livingston County Road Commission. (JM)

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    Several tax preparation help sessions will be held at the Pinckney Library over the next several months. The sessions will be held February 19th, March 5th, March 19th and April 2nd. All of those dates fall on Tuesdays and will take place at the Pinckney Community Public Library from 10am to 5pm. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers will be available, offering free tax preparation help to anyone who needs it, with special attention to those who are 50 or older or have low to moderate income. Appointments will be scheduled for an hour and must be made in advance, which can be done by visiting the library. Anyone with questions or in need of further information is asked to contact the library at (734)-878-3888 or visit www.pinckneylibrary.org.

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    A local community bank is working with customers impacted by the federal government shutdown. First National Bank, the only bank headquartered in Livingston County, says it is committed to working with customers impacted by the federal government shutdown. The shutdown has entered its fourth week and federal employees are now going without their first paycheck. President/CEO Ron Long says federal government employees deserve their attention and help and it's what a community-based financial institution should do as these are family, friends and neighbors. Long says while Livingston County may not have a significant population of federal government employees, there are individuals, non-profit organizations and even small businesses with federal contracts who are impacted nonetheless and the shutdown puts a strain on all of them. First National has pledged it will work with impacted customers on an individual basis to help them weather the shutdown. Long says there are often options other than a short term personal loan, cash advance on a credit card or dipping into investments or savings and staff is ready and willing to help identify solutions where they exist. He says that could mean helping a customer postpone a loan payment without a fee or helping to refinance a loan from another institution and delaying the first payment due date. Small business solutions could include working through a commercial loan payment plan, receivables financing or even assistance with what to do with a pending SBA loan during the shutdown. Long says while the bank may not be able to help in every situation, those impacted by the federal government shutdown who are experiencing financial hardship are encouraged to reach out as soon as possible to discuss individual arrangements and options. He says the earlier each situation can be reviewed, the easier it may be to identify and implement potential solutions. (JM)

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    Volunteers are being sought for an event next month that gives residents a chance to learn about and receive services available to them in the community. The 12th Annual Community Connect event will be held from 9am to 2pm at Parker Middle School in Marion Township on Saturday, February 2nd. The Livingston County Homeless Continuum of Care Committee hosts the one-day connection to needed items, community resources, and free services for Livingston County residents in need. Services include free lunch, haircuts, legal consultation, employment services, books, clothes, personal care items, health screenings, benefits information and more. The family-friendly event also offers fun activities for kids, however childcare is not provided. No registration is required for guests. Event organizers are looking for volunteers to help guests navigate the resources throughout the day, as well as for set-up on Friday, February 1st. For volunteer registration forms, contact dgehringer@lcunitedway.org .

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    A partnership with local dentists will allow Gleaners Community Food Bank to put food on the table for thousands of people in Livingston County. Some dental patients have been choosing to donate the bits of gold, palladium, or other precious metals removed from their old dental work to a good cause. A total donation of $24,734.58 was just presented to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan by donations collected by the Gold for Food program. Started in 1996 by Dr. Fredric L. Bonine of Brighton, participating dentists collect patients’ old restorations and these are then sent to a refinery where they are then smelted, with the proceeds donated to Gleaners. This year the precious metals amounted to a value of $12,367.29, which was matched by Kroger, for a total donation of $24,734.58. The total amount donated to Gleaners Food Bank is $316,749.58 since the inception of the program. Dr. Bonine says patients who want to take part should inquire at their local dentist’s office if they participate in the Gold for Food program. Pictured from left to right is Dr. Bonine, Dr. Gary Forgach, Dr. Brad Rondeau, Dr. Virginia Eick, Bridget Brown the Director of Food for Gleaners Livingston County, Dr. Jonathan Birchmeier, Dr. Walter Goodell and Dr. William Metz. Other area dentists involved in the program are Dr. Matthew Matuszak, Dr. Tara Wilson, Dr. Todd Charlick, Dr. Melissa Shalhoub, Dr. Michelle Andrusyszyn and Dr. Christina Scanlon.(JK)

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    The Putnam Township Planning Commission is continuing to work on a new agritourism ordinance that will allow flexibility in events but keep discretionary power with officials. Planning Commission Chairman Michael Porath said they began working on the ordinance last spring when resident Chris Shell approached them wanting to hold more events at his wedding barn than the township allows. Shell owns 250 acres north and east of Pinckney High School. In addition to wanting to run around 30 barn weddings a year, Shell and his family also have plans to turn the large property into a family destination. He said he envisions a “u-pick” Christmas tree farm, fruit orchard, walking trails,a market, bakery, playscapes, and seasonal events like a Haunted Forest and Santa experience. Planning Commission Chairman Michael Porath said they’ve read about wedding barn problems in Dexter Township and that those are problems they aren’t looking to duplicate in Putnam. He said they are trying to accommodate Shell, but mostly protect the neighbors and people of the township from things big events bring, like sights, smells, and noise. Township Planning Consultant Brian Borden told the planning commission he is working on drafting an ordinance that will take an existing rigid set of restrictions and make them flexible. Borden continued by saying, however, that it needs to be written so as not to open the door for other people coming into the township to abuse. Incorporating the idea of discretion can keep power with Putnam Township officials and better protect neighbors of those holding large events. Borden said his goal to have a new draft prepared in time for next month’s meeting, after which a public hearing can be scheduled. (MK)

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    A ceremonial swearing-in was held Sunday in Lansing for 8th District Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. The event, held at the Lansing Center featured fellow Democrat, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who formerly represented the 8th District when she in the House of Representatives. Stabenow also performed the swearing-in. Among those speaking was Matt and Amy McKenna, an Army veteran couple from Brighton who spoke to Rep. Slotkin’s commitment to servicing veterans’ and military families’ needs. Slotkin called for a “return to decency and integrity in politics”, demanding that Washington take a page from “Michiganders’ resolve to get things done by working together across differences.” “I pledge to always listen, even if we don’t always agree. I pledge to stand up for American values and the spirit of what makes us an amazing country, and to fight to bring back a sense of integrity to our democratic system. I pledge to make sure that every working family gets a fair shake -- no more, but no less. And I pledge to work my tail off to protect and defend the health of our families, our environment, and our way of life here in Michigan. I pledge these things in front of you, my community, and I know –– and I expect –– you all to hold me to it.” Slotkin reiterated her pledge to hold a town hall once every three months, as well as release her weekly public schedule. She also discussed plans to, in addition to the flagship office on West Saginaw in Lansing, open a satellite office in Rochester and maintain a representative in Livingston County. (JK)

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    A helpless animal’s pain and suffering was ended after the efforts of local firefighters over the weekend. Residents along Joslin Lake in Lyndon Township, just south of Unadilla, spotted an injured deer stuck in the ice Sunday morning. After initially calling the Michigan Department of Natural Resources but getting no response, MLive.com reported that Chelsea firefighters, supported by firefighters from Dexter, responded to rescue the animal at about 9 a.m. Chelsea Fire Lt. Eric Stanley and Firefighter Nate Saarinen, both wearing thermal suits and connected to safety ropes, walked nearly 250 yards across the 1-inch thick ice to get close to the stranded deer, and looped a rope around its neck. Firefighters on shore then began reeling in the line as the firefighters and deer slid across the ice toward shore. Once back on shore, it was determined the 150-pound deer had lost its front left hoof. It’s believed the deer made its way onto the ice after being struck by a vehicle. A Michigan State Police trooper then arrived on the scene and put the buck down with a rifle. Captain Smyth said the venison will be harvested and then donated. (JK)

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    State Senator Lana Theis has announced her additional committee assignments. The Brighton Township Republican will serve on five additional Senate committees during the 100th Legislature. Theis previously announced that she will chair the Senate Insurance and Banking and the Education and Career Readiness committees. Theis will also serve as a member of the Economic and Small Business Development; Health Policy and Human Services; Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Oversight committees. Theis will also serve as the vice-chair of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee. She said she looks forward to serving as a member of the additional committees that deal with, “some of the most impactful legislation and critical issues affecting Michigan residents (from) health care, oversight of agency’s administrative rules, the economy, jobs and business relations…” A full list of Senate committees and their memberships are available online through the link below. (JK)

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    The Michigan Department of Transportation is seeking public input on a new, long-range transportation plan. Michigan Mobility 2045 will be MDOT’s new plan that will establish a vision and priorities for transportation in the state for the next 25 years. From now through March they are collecting input and ideas from citizens that will help make the plan more effective. Project Manager Brad Sharlow says that Michigan Mobility 2045 will be largely used as a resource for decision makers. He said their biggest challenge is getting people to understand that this plan doesn’t necessarily show a list of projects to be completed, but will show strategies which will be used by the decision makers at MDOT and at several local agencies as they decide how they will invest. There are several ways that Michigan residents can share their ideas for the future of transportation with MDOT. Sharlow said one of the easiest methods of getting involved is by the use of Metroquest. Metroquest is an online survey that can show scenario planning and present transportation situations in realistic context as set by MDOT. Citizens may also receive one of 10,000 calls that MDOT can randomly dial for a Telephone Town Hall. People contacted this way will be able to join a conference call, ask questions, and express their opinions. Visioning sessions will also take place in selected areas across the state. Phase 2 of the plan will begin in May, with Sharlow saying they expect to have it finished and finalized by fall of 2020. Learn more at www.michiganmobility.org. Public comments can also be emailed to m-dotmichiganmobility@michigan.gov, or shared on MDOT’s social media sites located at www.facebook.com/michigandot or www.twitter.com/michigandot. (MK)

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    A Putnam Township family lost their horses in a barn fire Sunday morning. Putnam Township Fire Chief Greg Amburgey tells WHMI that his department was called out at about 6:15am to the barn located on property at Hinchey and Burgess Roads. Upon arrival, Amburgey says they found the structure fully engulfed in flames. They immediately began pouring water onto the barn, but it was a complete loss, including the seven horses inside. Amburgey says firefighters had to wake up horse’s owners and that the call was made by a neighbor after they heard an explosion, which was likely a propane tank kept inside the barn. The structure was a complete loss. He says a cause is unknown at this point, but it doesn’t appear to involve foul play. There were no other injuries. The Hamburg, Unadilla and Howell fire departments assisted at the scene of the fire, while Dexter firefighters covered the Putnam Township station. (JK)

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